Gulf of Aden Security Review

A regularly updated review of both Yemen and the Horn of Africa covering topics related to security, governance, and militant activity.

Yemen: President Hadi seeks control of al Hudaydah governorate before ceasefire; AQAP militants withdraw from checkpoints in Lawder district, Abyan governorate; AQAP militants clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces in northwestern al Bayda governorate; ISIS Wilayat al Bayda claims attack targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in western al Bayda governorate; tribal leader denies claim that U.S. warship shelled AQAP militants in southern Abyan governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants ambush KDF convoy in Elwaq, Gedo region; Galmudug State security forces kill senior al Shabaab commander in Mudug region; UN warns of impending humanitarian disaster in Horn of Africa

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi stated that Operation Golden Spear “will not stop until the entirety of Yemeni soil is liberated” on February 3. Operation Golden Spear intends to seize western Yemen’s Red Sea coast and sever al Houthi-Saleh supply lines. Hadi explained that his government will not agree to a ceasefire until al Houthi-Saleh forces are forced out of al Hudaydah governorate. UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed presented a ceasefire proposal to the UN Security Council on January 26. The plan requires the withdrawal of al Houthi-Saleh forces from Sana’a city, an end to the Saudi-led coalition ban on flights into Sana’a airport, and the appointment of a consensus vice president. President Hadi stated that he cannot accept Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s terms because they “reward the coup.”[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants temporarily seized checkpoints in Lawder district and Shaqra area, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on February 2. AQAP militants withdrew the same day after local anti-AQAP tribal militias began to mobilize against the AQAP militants. AQAP militants destroyed a security building in Lawder on February 2 before withdrawing from the area.[2]
  • AQAP claimed to clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces for multiple hours in Dhi Kalib, Rada’a district, northwestern al Bayda governorate on February 3. AQAP claimed to drive al Houthi-Saleh forces out of the area after killing ten al Houthi-Saleh fighters. U.S. Special Operation Forces (SOF) raided an AQAP headquarters north of Dhi Kalib in al Bayda on January 29.[3]
  • Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda claimed to shell al Houthi-Saleh forces in Qifa, Rada’a district, western al Bayda governorate on February 2. Wilayat al Bayda also distributed photos of militants firing a mortar. ISIS Wilayat al Bayda last claimed an attack on January 7. AQAP militants also operate in Rada’a district.[4]
  • A tribal leader from Zinjibar, southern Abyan governorate, denied reports that a U.S. warship bombarded AQAP militants in nearby Shaqra area, southern Abyan. Unnamed Yemeni officials claimed that U.S. warships shelled AQAP positions in Shaqra on February 2. The Pentagon denied U.S. involvement in the alleged attack. U.S. officials also confirmed on February 3 that the Navy deployed the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) convoy with an improvised explosive device (IED) in Elwaq, Gedo region near the Kenya-Somalia border in southwestern Somalia on February 2. The militants fired on KDF troops after the initial blast. Neither side reported casualties. KDF uses Elwaq, a strategic town on the Kenya-Somalia border, as a main supply route for Kenyan troops in southwestern Somalia.[6]
  • Galmudug State security forces killed a senior al Shabaab commander during a raid near the coastal town of Harardhere, Mudug region in central Somalia on February 3. The commander, known as “Arab,” was al Shabaab’s head of finance in central regions. Somali special operations forces killed al Shabaab’s deputy military commander in Gedo region, Abdullahi Qanas, during a similar operation on January 29.[7]
  • The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, warned that Somalia will suffer a disastrous famine unless it receives massive and urgent humanitarian assistance. UNOCHA increased the number of people categorized as either “crisis” or “emergency” situations from one million to more than three million people. Somalia is suffering from severe drought that resembles the conditions that led to the 2010-2011 famine which killed more than 250,000 people.[8]


[1] “President of the Republic: Operation Golden Spear will not stop until Yemeni soil is liberated of the putschists,” Sabanew, February 3, 2017, and “President Had tells Quds ‘We will not accept the road map, whatever the pressure Golden Spear will arrive in al Hudaydah,” Aden Lange, February 3, 2017,
[2] “Cautious calm in Lawder and damaged the city's electricity wall because of the bombing of a base,” Aden Tomorrow, February 2, 2017,; and “Urgent: Al Qaeda withdraws  from the center of lawdar district after hundreds of sons of the district collect and announcement they will confront armed groups,” Aden Tomorrow, February 3, 2017,
[3]AQAP claims its militants killed ten al Houthi-Saleh forces and pushed them out of Dhi Kalib, Telegram, February 3, 2017.
[4] ISIS Wilayat al Bayda claims its militants shelled al Houthi-Saleh forces in Qifa, Rada’a, al Bayda, Dawaal Haq, February 2, 2017.
[5] “Tribal elder from Abyan denies that U.S. bombed al Maraqisha area,” Aden Tomorrow, February 3, 2017,; “Yemeni officials say warships shell al Qaeda positions, U.S. denies involvement,” Reuters, February 2, 2017,; and “U.S. sends Navy destroyer to patrol off Yemen amid Iran tensions: officials,” Reuters, February 3, 2017,
[6] “KDF soldiers in deadly fight after another attack in Elwaq,” Mareeg, February 3, 2017,
[7] “Senior al Shabaab official killed in Galmudug,” Goobjoog News, February 3, 2017,
[8] “Urgent scale-up in funding needed to stave off famine in Somalia, UN wars,” UN News Centre, February 2, 2017,
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